Reviewer of fitness-to-work benefit tests Professor Michael Harrington to stand down

While people had been let down by the system, he challenged campaigners who had called for it to be scrapped entirely to come up with an alternative.

“What are you going to put in its place? Tell me why, how you are going to make it better?” ~ Harrington

Black Triangle Comment:

We have very detailed and soundly, scientifically researched proposals for an alternative, Professor!

You have been used as a tool by the ConDems and have provided them with a smokescreen to carry out crimes against sick and/or disabled people!

Shame on you for taking the King’s Shilling and for prostituting your academic credentials to lend credibility to this government of criminals!

If you had any shred of decency you would have resigned for all the ongoing harm that is being continually perpetrated on patients by the DWP/AtoS assessment régime!

Enjoy your thirty pieces of silver!

The Harrington Reports:

A whitewash of a system that has cost many lives and MUST END NOW – WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT!

____________________________________________________________________________

The man in charge of reviewing the government’s controversial fitness-to-work benefit assessments is to stand down, the BBC’s Panorama has learned.

Professor Malcolm Harrington has called for a big overhaul of the process of testing claimants’ ability to work to make it more “fair and humane”.

He said ministers wanted a “fresh set of eyes” – but denied this was because of changes he had asked for.

Officials said he had only been recruited for a limited period.

More than two million people currently claiming employment and support allowance – formerly known as incapacity benefit – are having their status reviewed as part of a government drive to get more people into work and reduce welfare bills.

The work capability assessments were first introduced on a pilot basis by Labour in 2008 and rolled out across the country by the coalition government.

Critics have said the large number of decisions overturned on appeal show the process is flawed and that tests are too impersonal, not medically rigorous enough and the fluctuating nature of some conditions is not sufficiently taken into account.

Brought in to review the system in 2010, Prof Harrington has recommended major changes – such as putting a single health professional in overall charge of each case rather than relying on responses to questionnaires and computer assessments handled by staff from contractor Atos.

Prof Harrington – an occupational health specialist – told the Panorama programme he would stand down after he produced his third review later this year and someone else would take over.

He made it clear it was the government’s decision, but rejected suggestions that he had effectively been sacked.

‘Traumatic’

“They said to me ‘you have been doing this for three years and you have come up with a number of recommendations which we are going to implement… we think it would be a good idea if a fresh set of eyes looked at it for the final two years’.”

Prof Harrington said there was no political pressure for him to go and since he had not “come up with any bright ideas” in the last few months the time may be right for a change.

I think people are being treated more like human beings now but it is still difficult to go through it” ~ Professor Malcolm Harrington

“At no stage has anybody… ever said to me we are not going to do that because we cannot be bothered or it is too much trouble. No recommendation has been turned down.”

Under the system, claimants are placed in three categories: those deemed able to work straight away, those considered able to do so at some point in the future with the right help – the so-called work-related activity group – and those judged unable to work and needing unconditional support.

Prof Harrington said his recommendations had resulted in a fall in the number of those in the fit-to-work category and a rise in those in the work-related group – the most “difficult” group to assess.

Although he believes his recommendations have improved the system, Prof Harrington said changes were not happening quickly enough and the experience was still “traumatic” for many people.

“I think people are being treated more like human beings now but it is still difficult to go through it.”

‘Human beings’

Those challenging decisions often found themselves in “a state of limbo and increased anxiety” for months, he added, while it was “illogical” that some people were being asked to go for further tests just weeks after they had been found unable to work.

“I would like to think it was dramatically better and my recommendations have done a fantastic job. I am not sure that is true. I think it is better, it is improving but it is still patchy.”

It was made clear at the start that Prof Harrington would undertake three reviews” ~ Department for Work and Pensions

While people had been let down by the system, he challenged campaigners who had called for it to be scrapped entirely to come up with an alternative.

“What are you going to put in its place? Tell me why, how you are going to make it better.”

Ministers have said the welfare state will continue to support those in “genuine need” but “tough decisions” have to be taken to tackle the deficit.

In a statement, the Department for Work and Pensions thanked Prof Harrington for his work.

“It was made clear at the start that Prof Harrington would undertake three reviews.

“The secretary of state for Work and Pensions is aiming to appoint a successor to undertake the fourth independent review of the work capability assessment before the end of 2012.

“The department is currently considering its options for the recruitment of Professor Harrington’s successor and their terms of reference.”

Panorama: Disabled or Faking It? will be shown on Monday at 8.30pm on BBC Two.

BBC

Comments
  • papasmurf July 30, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Prof Harrington ask:- “What are you going to put in its place? Tell me why, how you are going to make it better.”

    Well Professor before you took up your appointment with the DWP to review the Work Capability Assessment I wrote to you as you are a renowned World expert on Psychometric Testing to suggest that because the WCA is fundementally flawed that Psychometric testing be used instead.
    As you are well aware Psychometric Testing was used by British governments from 1916 until the 1980s to determine IF a disabled/long term sick/mentally disabled person was able to work, IF they were able to work, what work, what if any education/training they would need to do that work, and what if any workplace modifications would be needed to carry out that work.
    I can only surmise why Margaret Thatcher privatises Psychometric Testing which then went bust, and Peter Lilley brought in a “Pariah Company,” Unum as advisors and we ended up with marks 1,2, and 3 of the Unum test which got them sued in America for wrongly finding disabled/long term sick people “fit for work” so that insurance payouts could be denied them.

  • kasbah July 30, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    See the Benefits and Work Website regarding being able to get a questionnaire and so take part in the next “Harrington Review”- ending in September. What will happen to this review? Will it still go ahead now that Harrington has “stepped down” and if so, who will analyse it and write the report? I think we should be told!!

  • Sue July 30, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    Why have the BBC and Channel 4 scheduled two very important documentaries to overlap each other. Channel 4’s Dispatches at 8p.m. tonight (Monday) is probably the favourite – it shows an undercover Doctor who infiltrated ATOS recruitment and filmed the Assessors being told to fail 7 out of 8 people (the ConDems have repeatedly denied that they set quotas) Try the get as many people as possible to watch – Facebook, Twitter etc.

  • Doggo July 30, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Stands down, he should be strung up.

  • Humanity2012 July 31, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    They All make me Sick Regime Collaborators

    We Need a Decent Government Now

  • Humanity2012 July 31, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Constitutional Protection for the Welfare Benefits of the Poor and Vulnerable
    Now and Forever

  • kasbah July 31, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    I have been told today by my Advocacy Worker to get as many people as possible to fill in the WCA review questionnaire-it is on the Benefits and Work website. They give advice and info on it. Deluge the psychopaths with a huge damning surge of questionnaires.

    We need to take to the streets too. I dare someone capable of it to kick Grayling and IDS up the feckin’ arse. And then some.

  • You must be logged in to comment. Log in
%d bloggers like this: